Radioactive fish retrieval succeeds in deep water at 27,440 ft

Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana, United States, North America, Offshore

After multiple debris-removal runs, the ReSOLVE iX™ intelligent extreme wireline intervention service pulled the >20-lb fish out of hole from a depth of 27,440 ft. The successful operation enabled the operator to resume drilling without mobilizing heavy equipment and with zero HSE incidents.

A deepwater operator in the Gulf of Mexico was executing completion operations in a deep, high-pressure environment. Following a gravel-pack operation, a portion of the wash pipe BHA was left in the hole at a depth of 27,440 ft.

The lost-in-hole toolstring included a nuclear source, which made fishing a high priority. Adding to the urgency, the fish was located in the middle of the gravel-pack assembly and compromised the well completion. For all these reasons—including the high cost of drillship operations—the equipment mobilization had to be completed in less than 24 hours.

To cope with the well’s narrow restrictions, the SLB Reservoir Performance team deployed the slim-profile 2 1/8-in ReSOLVE iX service with its bidirectional active debris removal tool and highly expandable anchor-linear actuator. Even so, challenges remained. Pressures exceeding 20,000 psi taxed the upper limits of the tool’s operational range. The narrow restriction also prevented using an overshoot method to grab the fish.

After the first fishing run identified obstructions in the well, the ReSOLVE iX active debris removal tool was used to clear the way, which enabled access another 30 ft farther down. In pulling out of hole, the active debris removal tool showed some proppant and metallic bits mixed in with the formation cuttings.

Several additional runs completed the debris recovery, with multiple nozzles used to optimize the process. The first run used a muleshoe nozzle, scooping the debris through its large opening. The last runs were equipped with a long, small-diameter snorkel to wash the internal mechanisms of the joint. After pulling out of hole, marks on the snorkel clearly indicated the presence of the fish.

After seven debris runs, a grapple was mounted on the wireline fishing string. The first attempt was not successful, but a second run managed to pull the >20-lb fish out of hole.

The 3-day operation enabled the operator to resume well construction activities in a very challenging well without mobilizing heavy equipment, and the entire operation was accomplished with zero HSE incidents. Teamwork, resilience, and dedication—coupled with the reliability of SLB technology—clearly made a difference in saving the well.

"Thanks to all those who assisted in successfully overcoming the recent fishing event. When operations are in the ditch, things can change quickly. Recovery efforts would not have been possible without the team’s focus, collaboration, and commitment to safety. Operational challenges are to be expected—it’s how we overcome them that shows our mettle.”

Drilling/Completions Engineer
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